I love pansies in the spring. Their bright, cheerful faces and bold colors are so fun. Is there anything I can do to make them last through the summer?
Pansies are a very popular plant, but many gardeners have given up growing them because of their short bloom duration. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to increase the duration. Because pansies love cool spring weather, once the temperatures reach the 80s, they fade rapidly. Summer heat greatly reduces flowering and causes the plants to become straggly and unsightly. Enjoy them through May, but then remove them to make way for summer annuals. Pansies can be planted in early September for a fall display, and if the winter is mild, will come back in the spring.
Maybe this is an opportunity for genetic engineering to lend a helping hand. Perhaps scientists will discover a way to insert a gene that will cause retention of the wonderful flowering habits of pansies while making the plants resilient to 100 degree heat. Interest in planting pansies would undoubtedly then be revitalized.
Ornamental sweet potatoes:
I have grown ornamental sweet potatoes this summer and just love the foliage. Is there a way I can over-winter the plant for next spring?
The ornamental sweet potato is not hardy and will not survive after a frost. Most people just enjoy the plant and let it die in the winter. If you like a challenge, starting your own plants next spring is an option. Like all sweet potatoes, ornamental varieties produce a tuber in the soil. Dig up the tubers to store over the winter, keeping them cool and dry. In early spring, force shoots to emerge from the sweet potato as you may have done when you were a child. Put toothpicks in the potato and placed it a jar of water. Once the sprouts emerge, break them off and root them in a quality potting soil. After rooting for a couple of weeks, they are ready for transplanting to the garden or containers.